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Why Do the Swiss Rent?

Author

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  • Steven C. Bourassa

    (University of Louisville, School of Urban and Public Affairs)

  • Martin Hoesli

    (University of Geneva, HEC and Swiss Finance Institute)

Abstract

At 34%, Switzerland has the lowest home ownership rate in Western Europe. This is a puzzle given the economic strength of the country. We use 1998 household survey data for five Swiss cantons to explore some possible reasons for this. We estimate a tenure choice equation that allows us to analyze the impacts of a number of key variables on the ownership rate. We pay particular attention to the relative cost of owning and renting, which is a function of house prices, rents, and the user cost of owning. The latter is a function of income tax policy and expected house price inflation, among other things. We also measure mortgage underwriting criteria and consider rent control and other policies affecting rental housing. By simulating a number of hypothetical changes to taxation and other policies, underwriting criteria, and price levels, we assess the importance of these variables in explaining the ownership rate. We conclude that high house prices—relative to rents and to household incomes and wealth—are by far the most important cause of Switzerland’s low ownership rate.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven C. Bourassa & Martin Hoesli, 2006. "Why Do the Swiss Rent?," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 07-04, Swiss Finance Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:chf:rpseri:rp0704
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Peter Linneman & Susan Wachter, 1989. "The Impacts of Borrowing Constraints on Homeownership," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 17(4), pages 389-402.
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    3. Linneman, Peter, 1985. "An economic analysis of the homeownership decision," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 230-246, March.
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    5. Chiuri, Maria Concetta & Jappelli, Tullio, 2003. "Financial market imperfections and home ownership: A comparative study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 857-875, October.
    6. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2003. "The impact of building restrictions on housing affordability," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jun, pages 21-39.
    7. Steven C. Bourassa & Ming Yin, 2006. "Housing Tenure Choice in Australia and the United States: Impacts of Alternative Subsidy Policies," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 303-328, June.
    8. Donald R. Haurin & Patric H. Hendershott & Susan M. Wachter, 1996. "Borrowing Constraints and the Tenure Choice of Young Households," NBER Working Papers 5630, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Green, Richard K. & Vandell, Kerry D., 1999. "Giving households credit: How changes in the U.S. tax code could promote homeownership," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 419-444, July.
    10. Philippe Thalmann, 1999. "Which is the appropriate administrative level to promote home ownership?," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 135(I), pages 3-20, March.
    11. Philippe Thalmann, 1987. "Explication empirique des loyers lausannois," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 123(I), pages 47-70, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Costello, Greg & Fraser, Patricia & Groenewold, Nicolaas, 2011. "House prices, non-fundamental components and interstate spillovers: The Australian experience," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 653-669, March.
    2. Bourassa, Steven & Hoesli, Martin & Scognamiglio, Donato, 2010. "Housing finance, prices, and tenure in Switzerland," MPRA Paper 45990, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Marcén, Miriam & Morales, Marina, 2018. "The effect of culture on home-ownership," GLO Discussion Paper Series 244, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    4. repec:kap:jrefec:v:56:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11146-016-9595-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Hilber , Christian A. L. & Schöni, Olivier, 2016. "Housing Policies in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States: Lessons Learned," ADBI Working Papers 569, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    6. Philippe Bélanger, 2012. "Assessment of fixed rate mortgage implied insurance cost: Method and ex-post Swiss market analysis," ERES eres2012_372, European Real Estate Society (ERES).
    7. Karol Jan Borowiecki, 2009. "The Determinants of House Prices and Construction: An Empirical Investigation of the Swiss Housing Economy," International Real Estate Review, Asian Real Estate Society, vol. 12(3), pages 193-220.
    8. Nicole Aregger & Martin Brown & Enzo Rossi, 2013. "Transaction Taxes, Capital Gains Taxes and House Prices," Working Papers 2013-02, Swiss National Bank.
    9. Renata Bottazzi & Thomas Crossley & Matthew Wakefield, 2012. "Late starters or excluded generations? A cohort analysis of catch up in homeownership in England," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1215, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    10. Karol Jan Borowiecki, 2012. "Dynamics of a Protected Housing Market: The Case of Switzerland," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 49(14), pages 3195-3210, November.
    11. Löchl, Michael & Axhausen, Kay W., 2010. "Modelling hedonic residential rents for land use and transport simulation while considering spatial effects," The Journal of Transport and Land Use, Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota, vol. 3(2), pages 39-63.
    12. Michael Berlemann & Julia Freese, 2013. "Monetary policy and real estate prices: a disaggregated analysis for Switzerland," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 469-490, December.
    13. Firas Zebian & Richard Dusansky, 2015. "Housing Tax Reform and Foreclosure Rates," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 351-364, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Home ownership; Switzerland;

    JEL classification:

    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets

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